Processing Honey

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About
Some honey is sold in its beeswax honeycomb, but producers extract most of their honey from the comb and then treat it to extend its shelf life. They remove the honeycomb from the hive and spin it in a centrifuge to separate liquid honey from solid wax. They then generally heat the honey to around 155°F/68°C to destroy sugar-fermenting yeasts, strain it to remove pieces of wax and debris, sometimes blend it with other honeys, and finally filter it under pressure to remove pollen grains and very small air bubbles that would cloud the liquid. The honey may be packaged as a liquid at this stage, or else crystallized to form a spreadable paste, or “cream,” that doesn’t run and drip the way liquid honey does. Though it seems solid, 85% of cream honey remains in its liquid form, dispersed around the 15% that has solidified into tiny crystals of glucose.